Wednesday, May 31, 2006


The experience of two complete strangers, perhaps of varying colors and cultural backgrounds, forming an immediate bond with the exchange of a smile, a slight head nod of acknowledgment and an ‘assalamualaikum,’ (greeting of peace) is truly amongst those incredibly heart uplifting feelings that Allah swt has blessed us with.

How very often do I find myself walking the streets of New York city, head down, trying hard to turn away from the filth on the buildings and walls (the ads), on the streets and that which leaves the mouth of those who walk them (smoke, curses etc). It is at times such as these that I sometimes look up and spot a head with a hijab and there forms on my face an inevitable smile, of joy and perhaps hope. We get closer, our smiles now exposed, nod that slight nod of acknowledgment and exchange a greeting of peace. Within a moment our hearts connect and then part. We pass each other by but the smile retains its place in my heart. I am left reflecting on the blessings that Allah swt has bestowed upon us, including the ability he has given us to behold and appreciate beauty—the beauty of human connection. I now walk the very same filth-laden streets of New York city with a smile on my face, emanating from deep within.

There is so much beauty all around us. It can be seen or heard… and it is felt. It is strongly intertwined with happiness. It is no wonder then that the beauty of our Prophet salAllahu 'alaihi wa sallim fills our heart with so much joy and love.

Saturday, April 08, 2006


There was a game we played as kids. Rather, we learned to annoy each other with it. When someone said some thing, you'd ask 'why?' they'd reply and again you'd ask, 'why?' Perhaps they'd reply once more before realizing that you were not seeking answers but merely to annoy. (: It was fun (but annoying when done to you!). It is amazing that as kids we realized the power of 'why' and how it could be applied to just about anything and invariably. We played along some times and tried to come up with statements that could not be questioned further, perhaps something to the effect of "because Allah Mian is one!" Here the questioner would sheepishly withold his question and aha! he was caught. (:

To be inquisitive is a part of human nature and to question is a means of learning. When we stop questioning, that is when we fall into ghafla [ignorance]. We must question ourselves to remain aware of our intentions and we must question the world around us if we are to continue to live in it. The mindset that one carries when questioning, however, contributes largely to the answers that one gets. So if the purpose behind one's questioning is to learn and to improve (and here draw closer to Allah swt) then verily he will gain knowledge (and perhaps wisdom) by it, but if it is to simply argue or to annoy then just like we did as kids, he will receive nothing but mere play.

Children exhibit this inquisitive nature from a very young age as their mind seeks to make sense of the world around them. Unfortunately, often their questioning becomes annoying to the 'adults' and they are told to simply shut up, and obey. Depending on the personality of the child then he will either rebel or obey. He will either continue to question or his inquisitive nature will become thwarted and the questions internalized, perhaps even forgotten. He will learn to simply 'obey,' be it parents, friends or fashion trends. On the other hand, if one is encouraged to question, by answering his questions instead of thwarting them, he will better learn to make sense of the world around him in a manner that is befitting a human being.

Islam is the conscious act of submission. So contary to what many would see as 'having blind faith' it is a religion that involves much thought, conviction and the conscious choice to do that which God has commanded. If you are questioning some of the basics of the deen, don't feel bad or turn away from it, but know that questioning is the very first step to receiving an answer. And God is the All-Knower, Most Wise. If you seek, He will answer you.


Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala is beautiful and He loves beauty in all things. Have you ever contemplated the Beauty that is He, such that your heart and mind just cant take it and tears come streaming down your cheeks? Have you ever thought of the beauty of His love for you? The beauty of His Creation? The beauty in His Creation? The beauty of His favors upon you? The concept of beauty itself and our ability to appreciate it (both of which are furthermore His Creation)? Have you ever contemplated the Beauty that is He? Enough is such contemplation for the seeker! Indeed, hasbunAllah!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Islam, Marriage and Family Life

Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullah,
This is the next class Sana and I attended, however we got there late and ended up missing much of it. On a side note, everyone should spend some time with a new mother, preferably of a second child, to get a deeper understanding of why Allah swt has given the mother the status that He has! Anyhoo, here goes...(keep in mind these are my notes and may Allah swt forgive me for anything I wrongly attribute to the teacher)

Sunday, June 15 2006 -- 4:40pm
Class: Islam, Marriage and Family Life
Teacher: Imam Zaid Shakir

He had just finished going over the benefits of marriage. The next thing he covered were the various rulings regarding marriage:-
-It is sunnah and hence highly desirable. If one desires but can't afford it then it's better for them to wait until Allah swt blesses them with the means. It is makroo for one who doesn't desire it and doesn't have the means. It's wajib upon one who fears fornication etc. if he/she doesn't marry and has the means to get married. It is haram upon one who knows for a fact that they will oppress or abuse their spouse. Also, one who is preoccupied with devotion and study and doesn't feel the need for it, doesn't need to marry.

There were various different types of marriages that the Jahili Arabs used to engage in, and which were all declared haram upon the Muslims. These include:
1. Nikah al khidn -- secret, temporary marriage
2. Nikah al muta -- temporary marriage -- this continued into Islam but was outlawed because the niyyah of marriage is 'forever' and hence 'temporary marriage' is a self-contradictory statement and concept.
3. Nikah un badn -- temporary exchange of spouses.
4. Group marriage
5. etc. etc. there were others I stopped writing down. But basically any and all such things are forbidden!

Then at the end of this class Imam Zaid goes over one of the aphorisms of ibn Ata'illah as it pertains to family and marriage life. He started with the first one that goes something like this...
From the signs that a person is relying on his/her actions and not on Allah swt's Mercy is a loss of hope when a slip or error occurs.
He said that the essence of this is knowing that both you and your actions are from Allah swt. When you slip, you know that that is from Allah swt and there is Wisdom behind it. This is moreso for one who is at the end of the path ('arif) though. For those at the beginning of the path (salik), this doesn't necessarily apply because a loss of hope is needed to move them to action. As a family member, we have to realize this and we have to live for Allah swt and not for each other, so that when you slip you don't lose hope. We have to realize that we are not going to be the perfect spouse, sibling, child etc., we will slip but we can strive for perfection! Realizing this will also help you know that your spouse is also not perfect. This understanding of imperfection then allows for there to be a common base between you two to then work from.
[I think this is especially true for newly married couples as they will often, without realizing it, enter a marriage with certain expectations of each other and then be startled by some of their spouse's actions causing them to perhaps even feel low/disappointed. But instead trust in Allah swt's Mercy, know that both you and your spouse's actions are also from Allah swt, and focus on your common base of imperfection and the immense need this creates to struggle to help each other draw closer to Him 'azza wa jal. Great reminder for myself too!].

Then there was Q&A so we left...we had left the babies home with Tariq!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

2 weeks in Hayward, California

Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullah,

Alhamdulillah I had the honor of meeting several of the people that make up the Bay Area Muslim community (including Zaytuna) over the past two weeks while visiting my sister and her kidS mashaAllah. (: The winter session of classes at Zaytuna began the day I arrived and so here are the notes from whatever classes I was able to attend, in that order. These are just mere scribbles that I was able to jot down (I missed many things and must have incorrectly recorded others) but nonetheless I pray that Allah swt benefit you from these inshaAllah ta'ala and may He forgive me for any mistakes that I made in writing&typing these up--ameen*

Saturday, Jan. 14, 2006 3:30pm --
Class: Shamail -- The Prophetic Characteristics (saw)
Teacher: Ustadh Yahya Rhodus

At first Sidi Yahya discussed the importance of seeking sacred knowledge, to instill in our minds the greatness of this matter before Allah swt. He mentioned that Allah swt has said that He likes the 'higher' things, and seeking sacred knowledge is amongst these. One's intention when doing so should be to learn and to teach others, to benefit one's self and to benefit others, to improve one's self and to improve others...

Seeking sacred knowledge is foundational for our relationship with Allah swt as well as for the health of the community. Communities and lands (like our hearts) are brought to life by knowledge, coupled with action & da'wa. And the ultimate example we have is that of the Prophet (peace & blessings of Allah be upon him). For the first 13 years in Makkah, the Muslims sat with the Prophet (saw) and learnt! So this is how our hearts and communities will also come to life. There is a hadith that says that whoever goes out to seek knowledge (to bring life to Islam) and death comes upon him, there will be between him and the Prophets (as) one degree in Jannah. Sidi Yahya pointed out that this is not referring to a learned scholar, but rather one who simply makes the intention in their heart and sets out on this path, wherever he may be upon it. Then he continued, while it is important to study the other worldly sciences, sacred knowledge is different in that inherent in it is nur...and this is the nur of the Prophet (saw).

There are various sciences that have been codified to get to know the Prophet (saw)--seerah, khasais in nabawiyya (the distinguishing/miraculous Prophetic qualities), poetry etc. We will talk about the shamail--the inward and outward attributes or characteristics of the Prophet (saw). This is one of the greatest ways to come to love the Prophet (saw). If one establishes this love in their heart then everything else will be 'bashar' (good). And there are 6 ways to do this:
1. To establish a heart connection with him, i.e., that you think about him (saw) all the time--how he was, how he acted etc.--longing to see him and be with him.
2. To read his seerah and his shamail (saw).
3. To pray upon him often, i.e., send salawat upon him.
4. To have ta'dheem (exaltation) for his sunnah and the desire to follow it.
5. To serve his shariah -- to learn it, act upon it and teach it to others.
6. To help his ummah by taking care of the needs of the Muslims, for how concerned and compassionate was he (saw) towards them/us.

When we study the shamail is it not to merely hear a historic narrative. Rather there are 3 things to keep in mind when studying this:
1. The Prophet (saw) is our door to Allah swt. He is the means through which we come to know tawhid. So a study of his life is directly related to our relationship with our Creator.
2. He (saw) is the one who has translated this revelation to us. He (saw) had the ability to bear that which no one has/had the ability to do so. Even Jibrail (as) during the isra & mi'raj did not go past a certain level but he (saw) was allowed in. In the Quran Allah swt says that if this (the Quran) was sent upon a mountain it would split asunder, and yet it was revealed upon the heart of our beloved Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.
3. He (saw) is a human being and Allah (swt) sent him as a human being. He has: i) physical attributes ii) inward attributes iii) a ma'na or an understanding of his reality, granted to some.

In Surah Kahf Allah swt says what is translated as: Say I am only a human being like you. I receive revelation that indeed your Lord is one God. In this ayah alone you can see the 3 things mentioned above to keep in mind with regards to the Prophet saw when learning about him. [SubhanAllah I would never arrive at such depth of reflection when reading this single ayah of the Quran!]

There are various reasons for which people love someone. 1. It could be something physical. 2. One could love the mannerisms or characteristics of another. 3. Naturally we love those who do good to us. 4. As humans we love perfection, as it is a part of our fitra. Allah swt combined all of these in the Prophet (saw) for us, for he was a physically and internally beautiful person who was the perfect human being. It is important to note here that while the Prophet saw was a human being, he was not like any other human being. (:

Finally...the concern of our Prophet (saw) for us has reached us even to this day. For ex. once the Prophet (saw) prayed fajr with the companions and he turned to them and said [here Sidi Yahya interjected with his own reflection, urging us to imagine what the salah of the Prophet saw must have been like, the closeness he must have felt and what was it that caused him to then turn and immediately ask] 'who has the most amazing belief?' The sahaba replied, the angels! He said (saw), 'how could the angels not believe when they see the realities in front of them?' So they said, the prophets! 'How could they not believe if revelation is coming to them?' So they then said, your companions! to which the Prophet saw again replied 'how could you not believe when you see the miracles before your eyes?' Finally he (saw) said, 'The people who have the most perfect belief are the ones who come after me...[the hadith continued in a most beautiful manner describing them/us! but I wasn't able to write it cuz I was simply soaking it in]...they are my brothers.'

Sidi Yahya then gave out an outline of the book that they're using for the class and talked about the author of that book. SubhanAllah it was amazing to just hear about him, and other shyukh, may Allah swt grant them the station near their beloved (saw) in the Akhira. The book is 'Wasail al-Wusul ila Shamail al-Rasul' (The Means of Arrival ot the Characteristics of the Prophet saw) by Shaykh Yusuf Nabahani, and he is translating it from Arabic himself over the course of the class. SubhanAllah.

May Allah swt bless Sidi Yahya and his family and all those who attended this class as well as those who yearned to attend it and may He swt grant us all the love for our Prophet saw that is our hearts' desire, allowing it to be a direct means for us to draw ever closer to Him 'azza wa jal-ameen*

wassalamu 'alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu

Saturday, September 24, 2005

The Beauty in Silence

TV off
door shut
all gone
silence reigns

crickets sound
heart stills
darkness gains

rhythmic beat
God's praise
creation sings

There is a beauty in silence...

Nobody's home and I'm having organic Kashi crackers that Sana left behind with nutella. No one's home and for a change the walls of this house are experiencing silence. I don't want to disturb them so I type lightly and choose to keep the lights off. It's only the light of this screen that is blaring through the darkness. The crickets outside (and perhaps other creatures as well) are humming their song non-stop which is making its way through the window screen on my left and into my ears, entering my heart. There is a calm I feel, a peace. If I close my eyes and simply repeat 'Allah,' I can feel the heaviness upon my eyelids lifting.

When we are amidst Allah swt's Creation that is in utter and complete obedience to Him, doing exactly that which is ordained for it, then and then alone are we really 'at home'...and it is a wonderful feeling, not to mention a much needed serenity in our lives. May we make the most of these moments (be they in silence, amidst nature or in good company) so that we may find ourselves just as much at peace when there will be no one around, and in darkness we shall lay still-ameen*

Thursday, September 15, 2005

When Tragedy Befalls

My heart feels very heavy. I casually asked an old friend how she was doing after over a year, via email, and her reply froze my stare at the screen in shock, only later to be melted by a tear.

There is a lot going on in the world. People, as close to us as an easy phone call or email away, are suffering all around us. When the Light of deen first entered my heart, I felt very strongly that life could never be bad for a Muslim for even in trials and tribulations lay good! ‘Truly amazing is the affair of the believer. His affair only contains good. That realization only occurs for the believer. If he is blessed with good he thanks God and in that there is good. And if he is afflicted with difficulty he patiently endures and in that there is good.' (Sahih Muslim #7425)

However, I have recently been thinking a lot about how we all need not just a reminder of the Hikma behind trials, but more importantly, a helping hand through the trying times. Even with the knowledge that Allah swt does everything for the best, you often need the help and support of family, friends and people from the community to get you out of difficult situations you find yourself stuck in…to get you out of your suffering. Offering this support and help should be at the forefront of our minds as we interact with people.

Imam Dawud Yasin said at a retreat I recently attended, “feed people and open up your houses.” It’s time for us to open up our hearts and reach out to those who are suffering, lonely, tired, depressed, hurting…(and you will be surprised to find many such amongst us!) be it even in the smallest of ways, and alleviate their pain the best we can. It’s time to get back in touch with the world that exists outside of our own bubbled routines, the world that Allah swt has chosen to put us in the midst of, for a reason.